Education, Industry Connections and Persistence Reap Rewards
Creatives and trendsetters alike make excellent fashion designers. Perhaps you spent your childhood sketching fashion ideas or helping your girlfriends put together wardrobes at the mall. Or, maybe since having your baby, all you can think about and sketch are trendier maternity and nursing clothes. To set an example for your children, use your skills to help people all over the world feel beautiful as you chase your dreams.
Whether a fashion designer works full-time for a store label, magazine or from home independently, the responsibilities are similar. The typical workday involves reading industry magazines, sketching design ideas and putting those ideas to the test by creating sample pieces. Some designers are responsible for supervising assistants, interns and answering questions. If you work for a company or publication, you will present your ideas to the creative director to sell your vision and move forward with production. Independent fashion designers sell their wares through their own websites, storefronts or by selling wholesale to boutiques and department stores.
Most fashion designers participate in fashion shows, as well as travel to big fashion events like the biannual fashion week in New York, Milan and Paris. Child care could be a concern for longer trips away, but a traveling nanny would make it possible for your children to see the world as you live your dreams.
Break into the fashion world with a bachelor's degree in fashion design that gives you connections and work experience to begin a career in the industry. Internships are part of the educational process, so put your best foot forward and gradually collect a list of industry contacts for future reference. Your schoolwork and internships will also help you compile a polished portfolio of your work.
Fashion designers earn a median salary of $65,170 per year, which breaks down to $31.33 per hour, a nice wage to help support your children and save for their future. Half of existing fashion designers earn more than this, while the other half earn less.
New York and California are the most popular places to begin a career in fashion design. If you don't want to live there, plan to budget for trips to fashion events and shows, especially if you become an independent or freelance designer.
Fashion designers work independently, with magazines or for clothing, accessory or footwear companies. Self-employed fashion designers often work from home or a rented studio space, while the rest work in office environments. Sometimes, you may have the flexibility to work from home. Certain times of year, around major fashion weeks and shows, get very busy, and long hours can mean working both from home and the office. Plan ahead for your children's needs during this time to keep everyone as stress-free and happy as possible.
Years of Experience
Fashion designer positions generally pay a decent wage that increases with years of experience. Pay your dues in the beginning of your career to reap the rewards later. Median salaries for those with experience in the industry:
- Entry-Level: $50,399
- Mid-Career: $68,817
- Experienced: $78,834
- Late-Career: $96,437
Job Growth Trends
Job growth for fashion designers is expected to expand three percent over the next 20 years, which is somewhat slower than other fields. Increasingly, clothing is produced overseas, which makes competition for jobs steep.
Your best shot at securing a solid position as a fashion designer is to attend a well-known design school, secure an internship with a prominent design house, and put together a polished and professional portfolio. Making the right connections within the industry is vital, so create relationships in every class and internship. You never know who might help you in the future. If you can relocate to New York or California, your chances of breaking into the industry increase.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Fashion Designers
- CreativePool: Job Description: Fashion Designer
- Learn.org: What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Fashion Designer?
- Salary.com: Fashion Designer Salary
- PayScale.com: Fashion Designer Salary
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Arts and Design Occupations
- Princeton Review: Fashion Designer
Anne Kinsey is a writer, business woman, minister and coach who is passionate about inspiring others to walk out their career dreams and believe in possibilities. She resides in rural North Carolina with her husband and three children, where they enjoy the great outdoors and serve at-risk youth together.